Weds 8 June - Psalm 144
1 Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
2 He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.
3 Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
4 They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
5 Part your heavens, Lord, and come down;
touch the mountains, so that they smoke.
6 Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;
shoot your arrows and rout them.
7 Reach down your hand from on high;
deliver me and rescue me
from the mighty waters,
from the hands of foreigners
8 whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
9 I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.
From the deadly sword 11 deliver me;
rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
12 Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
14 our oxen will draw heavy loads.[b]
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.
- - -
Meditation on Psalm 144
“Where have I heard that before? Where have I read that before?” you may be asking as we come to Psalm 144.
You are not mistaken. Many of the words and phrases have come from earlier psalms and also from 2 Samuel 22 which is also refrained in Psalm 18.
- WHAT THE LORD MEANS TO DAVID Verses 1-2
As with so many of the psalms there are clear signs of the relationship that David has with the LORD.
- MY Rock – speaks of stability and a firm ground on which to stand.
- MY loving God – literally, ‘my unfailing love’ – speaks of the LORD’s closeness.
- MY fortress – speaks of safety. When David hid in caves when Saul was chasing him, he knew that he was being kept safe and guarded by God.
- MY stronghold – a stronghold is a defensive structure where I go when I am afraid, either on my own or with others who maybe battling through various circumstances and situations.
- MY deliverer – speaks of salvation. David knew what physical deliverance was like but he also knew what spiritual deliverance was like.
- MY shield – speaks of protection from the attacks of the enemy. As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:16: ‘In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.’
- MY refuge – speaks of the LORD being a safe place we can retreat to. He will never let us down. The lines of an old favourite hymn come to mind –
‘Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge – take it to the Lord in prayer.’
He is the same today as He was in David’s day. Therefore, we can rejoice.
But this relationship is two-way.
- WHAT DAVID MEANS TO THE LORD Verses 3-4
‘LORD, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think about them? They are but a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.’
As Spurgeon says: “The Lord thinks much of man, and in connection with redeeming love makes a great figure of him: this can be believed, but it cannot be explained.”
In Psalm 8 David asks the same question in the context of the magnificence of creation and the splendour of the Creator.
‘Who am I?’ could well be asked by each of us. ‘Who am I, Lord, that you care about me?’ ‘Who am I, Lord, that you think about me?’
How wonderful to know that whatever we may be going through, we can have that complete assurance that we are special to the Lord.
Another old hymn comes to mind – I’ve found a Friend, oh such a Friend, the last verse of which says:
‘I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend! So kind, and true, and tender,
So wise a Counsellor and Guide, so mighty a Defender!
From Him who loves me now so well, what power my soul can sever?
Shall life or death, or earth or hell? No? I am His forever.’
- WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE FOR DAVID Verses 5-8
Come back to verse 1b. David wasn’t just a part-time fighter who got involved every now and then. No, he was a trained fighter and what a trainer he had.
‘…the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.’
He wasn’t just up against ‘the lion and the bear’ when he was shepherding his father’s sheep. He was up against the LORD’s enemies - the Philistines, the Moabites, the Arameans, the armies of various kings, the Edomites. 2 Samuel 8:14 records that ‘the LORD gave David victory wherever he went.’
Isaiah pleads with the LORD to ‘rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains may tremble before you!’ (64:1)
In Psalm 18:9 David is looking back on the LORD doing just that – ‘He parted the heavens and came down…’
Now David is praying for that to happen again – verse 5: ‘part your heavens and come down…’
If we go back to Mount Sinai, we are reminded that God came down in awe and majesty to make Himself known to His people – Exodus 19:16-19.
There are other times when God came down in His awe-inspiring presence – e.g. 1 Samuel 7:10; 12:18; Job 38:1 and 40:6.’
And the LORD rescued him from all kinds of situations. David knew that the victories he accomplished were done with the help of the LORD.
- HOW DAVID RESPONDED TO THE LORD Verses 9-11
He sang a ‘new song’ to the LORD. He accompanied himself on the 10-stringed lyre. How many times do we read of David responding like this – in singing new songs.
How appropriate for us to sing to the LORD – both old and new songs.
Whatever the age of the song David reminds us to make sure that we sing ‘to you, my God… I will make music to you, the One who gives victories…who delivers.’
He then repeats his prayers for deliverance.
David spent much time with the LORD in both praise and prayer – that’s a real challenge for each of us.
- THE BLESSINGS THAT ARE TO COME Verses 12-14
David looks forward to what is yet to be in response to his praise and prayers.
- blessings on the family – ‘sons and daughters’
- blessings on the harvest – ‘barns filled with every kind of provision’
- blessings on the livestock – ‘sheep and oxen’
- blessings on the community – ‘no breaching of the walls; no being taken into exile; no cry of distress’
We can pray these prayers of blessings for the people of Ukraine, for the people of Afghanistan, for the people of Yemen, for the people of Ethiopia, the people of South Sudan, the people of Syria – just to name the top six areas of conflict around the world.
- THE FOCUS OF ALL OUR BLESSINGS Verse 15
Some translations use the word ‘happy’ in this verse but the word ‘blessed’ is deeper than the word happy intimates. To be blessed is to have that deep-down contentment in the LORD which is not always seen in a happy smile!
To know that we are the people of God - that I am a child of God – that we look forward to spending eternity with Him – how blessed is that?
‘This is our God, the Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King’- - -